Saturday, November 5, 2011


Japanese animation - mostly referred to as 'anime' today - has spread from East Asia archipelago of North America, and has become very popular. (Also pronounced "ah-nee-may" derives from the original Japanese pronunciation.) This form of cartoons, for those unfamiliar with it, gave birth to some of the most popular anime series in the culture American. To name a few series like Pokemon, Digimon, and Sailor Moon took North America by storm. The children wanted to buy collectible card games related to the aforementioned, as well as gadgets and toys of the sample. (I can attest to that - that was once the proud owner of a Pokedex.)

In the anime, some of the most recurrent themes are magical girls from school, children aesthetically beautiful, and ridiculously large scale fighting robots. However, considering the anime is of Japanese origin, often enough to draw in some of their native culture in it. One more prevalent, the issue of native Japan is samurai - the famous warrior class of medieval Japan. Honestly, it could take years to get through the mass amount of samurai anime series out there and thoroughly analyzed the image of the samurai, which is why we have decided to focus specifically on a famous group of warriors: the Shinsengumi.

A historical background of the Shinsengumi, what did?

To better analyze the Shinsengumi in the anime, I think it is necessary to give a brief historical background on this group of samurai.

At that time, the Tokugawa Bakufu - the military government that ruled from 1600 to 1868 - was more powerful than the emperor himself. With the arrival of foreigners and signing an unequal treaty with them, the Japanese began to question the authority of the bakufu. And in all this, the samurai were increasingly dissatisfied with the Tokugawa, especially because they were made to be of lower social class. In consequence of this dissatisfaction, the bakufu thought it was necessary to fight fire with fire, hire masterless samurai (more specifically Ranin) to protect the current leader of the shogun: they called RÅshigumi.

At first, as mentioned above, the purpose of forming the RÅshigumi was to protect the current leader of shogun Tokugawa Bakufu. Later, however, this was changed to follow the slogan of Jai sonno -. "Revere the emperor, expel foreigners" samurai group members were against the change and were adamant in protecting the bakufu, meaning that to keep their main purpose. The RÅshigumi then, reinforced by some newcomers, the group changed its name to Mibu RÅshigumi because its headquarters were located in the small town near Kyoto Mibu. Along with the name change, another change of purpose was made: instead of protecting the shogun, the members of the Mibu RÅshigumi patrolling the streets of Kyoto and act as a police force, law enforcement on behalf of government the shogun. On August 18, 1863, due to this final change, the samurai police force has been renamed in the way that we know today: the Shinsengumi, which translates as "newly selected from the body."

Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy, brought with him a peace treaty with Japan to sign - even though it was an unequal treaty - to the United Nations-states more advantages than that of Japan. The treaty forced the archipelago of East Asia to open more ports to foreigners. Other Western countries saw the success of this treaty and immediately followed suite, with Japan signed similar treaties with England, France, Holland and Russia. This caused an uproar within the samurai class as they were completely against the idea of ​​"contaminating" any western country. The signing of the treaty was seen as lazy, and people were assuming that the government was forced to open the doors of Japan to foreigners.

Japan was divided into two political parties: Kyoto Imperial Republicans, a group who were in rebellion against the military ideology of the Tokugawa, and Tokugawa Bakufu Edo (now Tokyo). Despite the clash of these two governments, a group of samurai rebels manage to assassinate General II of the Tokugawa shogunate - This event marked the end of Tokugawa rule.

One of the most famous historical Shinsengumi Ikedaya the incident in 1864. In short, a radical samurai planned to kidnap the emperor, Kyoto burning of land, and kill Katsumori Matsudaira (an important member of government). The Shinsengumi learned of these plans and raided the inn Ikedaya during the festival in Kyoto on July 8, 1864. Two hours later, the battle ended with a few casualties and seriously wounded samurai on both sides.

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